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Roman Classes


from the Greek words Ariston meaning "raised up on top" or "best" and Kratos meaning "dominion"

1. Patricians (Fathers of the Nation)
2. Senators (Seniors or Elders)
3. Equestrians (Cavalry - Military Horsemen)

vs Plebeians (Commoners)

from the Greek word Plethos meaning "the throng" or "multitude"

and Proletarian

on a census form, having no property, only progeny i.e. children


French Classes

First mention of the three estates was in April 1302, when King Philip IV of France called for representatives from each estate to form a council to advise him concerning Pope Boniface's threat of excommunication from Rome. Further councils were called regarding his wars with neighboring lands.

In England, mirroring this, religious leaders (bishops) and landed gentry formed the 'Upper House' — the Lords or literally Loaf Guardians in English and French — as, respectively, the Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. Local representatives formed the 'Lower House' (the Commons).

First Estate (Lords Spiritual — Clergy) i.e. bishops biscopus (overseer), priests presbyter (elder), deacons diaconus (one who runs errands).
Clergy comes from the Greek word kleros meaning "to allot", i.e. ministers and officers especially "allotted" by God, and contrasts with laity from the Greek word laos meaning "the people (in general)"

Second Estate (Lords Temporal — Nobles). Nobles comes from the Latin word gnobilis "knowable", distinguished celebrities - i.e. temporal masters and lords

Third Estate (Commons) i.e. bourgeois — town or city freemen — usually self-employed business people who lived within walled "burghs". Later in the 1700s, frequently referred to as "middle class", having an intermediary role between landlords (upper class) and country peasants (lower class).

Other Later French Terms


1791 following French Revolution - Term of contempt for the person who privately owns the "principal" in a business contract i.e. property or wealth



1841 in Marx and Engels world-view - A believer that all wealth should be owned "in common"


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